Upper back and shoulder pain are most commonly caused by muscular irritation or joint dysfunction, according to Spine-health. Upper back pain is frequently experienced in combination with neck and/or shoulder pain as a result of strain or poor posture. Many people who sit at a desk for long periods throughout the day experience back and shoulder pain over time. Less common causes include disk herniation, which is more prone to occur in the lumbar spine.
Lack of strength or overuse through repetitive motion can cause muscular irritation, states Spine-health. Strains from auto accidents and sports injuries are common causes of back and shoulder pain. Physical therapy is often an effective form of treatment, and it mostly focuses on rehabilitation exercises. Patients may also benefit from chiropractic, osteopathic or massage therapy. Acupuncture can be effective in people experiencing pain or tenderness in specific areas of the back.
People experiencing pain caused by joint dysfunction may require a chiropractor, osteopathic physician or a physical therapist to mobilize the impacted joints, explains Spine-health. The condition is generally due to dysfunction in the joints where the ribs connect to the thoracic spine. A physical program that includes aerobic exercise, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises for the spine, can provide long-term relief. A doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen or COX-2 inhibitors.